I was going to discuss the material in the following article in Biography---Part 2 but decided instead that the subject needed its own article. This information is edited from an email that I wrote to a friend back in December 2006.
When I was a child, I was called Patricia. Some of my friends at school called me Pat. Family has always called me Patricia. When I left home at 19, I became Pat and stopped using Patricia.
Patricia was a shy, abused child, scared of everyone and everything. Patricia was afraid of attention and starved for it at the same time. Patricia blended in. Patricia never had any opinions of her own.
Pat was a young adult, making her own decisions, living her life the way she wanted to for the first time in her life. Nobody was ever going to abuse Pat or tell her what to do again. Pat walked away from the abuse. She didn't deal with the way it affected her life. She would pretend that her family and childhood were normal.
When my husband, children and I moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas in October 1988, I knew it was time to work on me. In January 1989, I picked up a newspaper and found my first Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) meeting and soon after started going to Al-Anon meetings as well, trying to understand my dad, my mom and myself. My dad and grandfather were both alcoholics. I worked on finding out who I was and what made me happy, angry, sad, and hurt for 10 years. The ACA group that taught me so much about alcohol and myself dissolved through lack of members a few years before I quit going to Al-Anon. I still called myself Pat instead of Patricia. I still had not reconnected with who Patricia was.
After I stopped going to Al-Anon meetings, I found a church and began to explore my relationship with God. As I looked at who my image of God was, I found myself on a whole other level. Through the Unity church and the friends that I made there, I began to remember the beliefs that I held as a child. I always knew that God was a part of who I was. Baptist and Assembly of God churches that I went to as a child, didn't tell me that. I just knew. Even during the abuse when I told myself that God had turned his back on me, in my heart, I knew that God was there enabling me to grow through and beyond the abuse.
About 2 years ago, I decided it was time to become Patricia again. This Patricia is the whole me, childhood experiences and memories and also the adult Pat with all of her hard work, experiences and wisdom. I have discovered that there are still some people that I don't want to call me Patricia so sometimes I still introduce myself as Pat instead of Patricia. I think it is a sign of trust to allow certain people to call me Patricia. Some of my friends still call me Pat. I haven't insisted that they suddenly start calling me Patricia. I can't tell you exactly what shifted in me 2 years ago when I decided to be called Patricia again. It just felt right. So, please call me Patricia.